Our History

Since time immemorial, horses have been a central part of Native American culture and livelihood. Horses have been used for hunting, travel, trade and competitive sports. Tribal nations continue to celebrate and showcase horses through their sacred songs, stories and rodeos.

The AZ Native American Rodeo (AZNAR) Committee was formed through an agreement of Arizona Native American Rodeo Experts representing over five different Arizona tribes. The Arizona board which oversees the Arizona State Fair Committee is governed by Arizona State Statute 3-1001. The vision by founders was to elevate rodeo competitions to showcase the presence of national Native American rodeo champions while also promoting and supporting the management of these competitions by experienced Native American rodeo management professionals. 

Today, the Arizona Native American Rodeo Committee is represented by experienced Native American rodeo management professionals representing Arizona’s twenty-two tribal nations. They promote Arizona’s rich Native American rodeo legacy and tribal traditions.  These representatives have dedicated much of their lives to sustaining Arizona’s Native American rodeo traditions. They are mentors, athletes, historians, as well as rodeo management professionals. The Committee is dedicated to elevating the overall Native American rodeo experience to further cultivate the national recognition brought to Arizona by our very own Professional Native American cowboys. The committee also intends to increase the presence of women and youth in the Native American rodeo circuit. 

The Arizona Native American Rodeo spotlights Arizona’s rich tribal heritage through rodeo competitions, cultural performances and demonstrations, artisan crafts and the promotion of Native American businesses.

By October 2022, reinstatement of the Arizona Native American Rodeo Committee will create new opportunities to leverage strong tribal partnerships to produce a successful 2023 Arizona Native American Rodeo during the Arizona State Fair in Phoenix Arizona. The Committee’s mission is to continue to successfully manage and grow participation in this rodeo on a yearly basis.

The Arizona Native American Rodeo Committee is seeking partners and sponsors to support and promote fundraising events as well as other organizing and planning events. We are excited about all the fresh ideas which have and will continue to evolve from the planned reinstatement of this Committee, and we are encouraging members of our tribal communities to get involved.

The 2023 reinstatement of the Arizona Native American Rodeo Committee will allow the Committee to manage and host the Arizona Native American Rodeo and cultural events from Thursday, October x, 2023, through Saturday, October x, 2023. The Committee will spotlight Arizona’s tribal heritage through cultural entertainment and demonstrations, The Committee’s mission is to cultivate and inspire Native American rodeo competition at a national level through mentoring while also promoting tribal cultural heritage and furthering an existing legacy of rodeo life and competition which is such a rich part of Arizona’s tribal communities.

The Arizona Native American Rodeo continues to be generously funded by the Arizona State Government with events hosted on the original homelands of the Akimel O’odham also known today as the Salt River-Pima Maricopa Indian Community located on the eastern boundary of Scottsdale. However, the current promoters of the Arizona Indian Rodeo currently are managed by a private enterprise, Honeycutt Rodeo Inc., which has no affiliation with Arizona tribes. Honeycutt is a non-Native rodeo management company. Reinstatement of the AIRC as the official Arizona All Indian Rodeo management company will put the management of the rodeo back in tribal hands where it belongs.

Correspondence: admin@aznativeamerican.org 

Media Contact: Debbie Nez-Manuel

Meeting Scheduler: Debbie Nez-Manuel 

Fiscal Sponsor: Morning Star Leaders, Inc – EIN #80-0907116 (Insured)

Meet Our Team

Rodger Dahozy
Fort Defiance AZ,

Board President

Member of the Navajo Nation. Rodger Dahozy is a member of the Navajo Nation and originally from Fort Defiance, Arizona. Dahozy produced his first rodeo in 1960 but before rodeo production, participant, teacher and judge, he was a ranch hand to his dad Wilson Dahozy, Sr. Living in Parker, Arizona during his formative years helped Dahozy understand the importance of land as they farmed and raised livestock. 

Dahozy became a champion steer wrestler in 1975. Through an advancing rodeo career many years in the making, a life-threatening injury sidelined Dahozy. Thus began his teaching and judging rodeo career. His children were his primary students and made sure they understood the all-around importance of the land, animals and good stewardship. However, when a young person showed interest in learning, Dahozy never hesitated to step in to teach. 

Dahozy shares about his aspiration for the AZ Native American Rodeo, “The vision for the next decade is to work from among Arizona’s twenty-two tribes to produce rodeos for up-and-coming talent among our younger generation, highlight the journey of how our young people and how they grow into champions both in and outside the arena. More personally, when we honor our families, livestock and way of life – we all win!”

Dahozy enjoys working closely with rodeos committees in producing quality rodeos and  working with the livestock. From rodeo judging at the Indian National Finals Rodeo to communities throughout Arizona, Dahozy is eager to spotlight Arizona’s time-honored heritage. This includes the journey of young people, senior contestants, and how they grow into champions both in and outside the arena while working closely with Arizona’s twenty-two tribes to produce rodeos for up-and-coming talent.

Nimrod Thomas Sr.
Fort McDowell AZ.

Vice President

Member of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. Thomas has been producing rodeos in Fort McDowell for 28 years.

Mariah Clark

Board Member at Large

Member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe. Mariah has held several tribal rodeo queen titles and has served as a pageant judge and emcee for both tribal and non-tribal events. She is currently a board member for a drill team that travels across the state of Arizona. Mariah states that her goal in life is to inspire the next generation of Native cowgirls through horsemanship and pageantry.

Shawn Shirley
Tolani Lake AZ.

Board Member at Large

Member of the Navajo Tribe. Shirley has been involved in professional and Indian rodeo for over 30 years as a contestant, producer and as an announcer. Shirley recalls the transition between being mentored to hosting launching his first professional experiences. “Mentoring our young people ensures we continue the legacy for generations to come.”

Cindy Garcia
Tohono O’odham, AZ.


Member of the Tohono O’odham Nation. Kohatk. Garcia has been part of Rodeo as a Producer, contestant, timer, secretary, and fan. Garcia has enjoyed the competition that the contestants bring to the arena and the personnel that are so eager to provide their professional services such as stock contractors who bring their best stock for rodeos.

Gina Enos
Sacaton, AZ.


Member of the Gila River Indian Community. Enos has been involved in rodeo queen pageants, rodeo committees and associations the past 20 years. She is a successful hay farmer. Committed to help young native youth to be successful in the sport of rodeo and tribal culture awareness.

Debbie Nez Manuel

Project Director

Debbie Nez-Manuel is a citizen of the Navajo Nation and originally from Klagetoh, Arizona. She earned her Master of Social Work degree from Arizona State University in 2003. She has since served in numerous community advocacy roles for youth development, family support programs, K-12 education and more. She has held management and supervisory positions in both tribal and federal government offices for more than two decades. 

In 2015, Nez-Manuel co-founded Morning Star Leaders, a statewide non-profit organization serving indigenous youth in leadership development. She still serves as the Executive Director today. 

In 2019, she was instrumental in helping the State of Arizona Legislature create the first Study Committee for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. She served as a committee co-chair with over 22 task force members. Debbie Nez-Manuel also serves in national leadership roles.

Recently, Nez-Manuel worked collectively with the Arizona Community Foundation’s executive team supporting economic and civic development in Native American communities statewide. She continues to foster stronger opportunities for Native American urban youth throughout Arizona. 

Nez-Manuel is the recent recipient of the 2022 Arizona Foundation for Women Awards, Voices of Women Award and the 2022 Arizona State University School of Social Work Community Impact Award.

Debbie Nez-Manuel is Tséníjíkiní, Cliff Dweller People of Klagetoh. She is born to the Tsénahabiłnii, Sleepy Rock People of Nashchitti, New Mexico. She is a maternal grandchild of the Tsi’naajinii, Black Streaked Forest People and a paternal granddaughter to the Tábąąhí, Waters Edge People.

Mariddie Craig
White Mountain Apache

Board at Large

Member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe.  Craig current serves as Councilwoman for the White Mountain Apache Tribe with term ending 2026. Additionally, Craig has served as the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s NARCH Principle Investigator since its inception in 2002 and has served as the Tribal Court Administrator.  Craig also served as a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribal Council from 1998-2006. 

As the WMAT NARCH Principle Investigator, Craig assumes primary responsibility for managerial coordination of all tribal agencies contributing to the NARCH effort.  She contributes input and intellectual leadership to the CBPR process for the NARCH research projects, oversees and leads NARCH community meetings, guides the participation of NARCH community faculty in the partnered mentoring of Apache scholars, assists in recruiting community volunteers to participate in the high school mentoring, community workshops and research conference activities.  

As the lead for WMAT NARCH, Craig works closely with the NARCH staff to accomplish the objectives of the grant and to serve the people of the White Mountain Apache Tribe.  The WMAT-IRB spearheaded by Craig is being finalized for implementation.